Monday, August 06, 2007


Over the past week, the Phillies completed a hard trip through Chicago and Milwaukee with a respectable 3-4 mark. Man, it felt worse- a hard week to be a fan. The Phillies were behind the eight-ball the entire trip. Their ace got beat, no Chase Utley, Victorino, Bourne- two starters and their best sparkplug player (well, maybe Coste). Down a catcher. A Vegas dog in every single game. They came into each series ultimate game needing to win to simply salvage the series- and to their credit they got both. They actually picked a game up on the Chicago Cubs for the week.

Basically, with the line-up, starting pitching and bullpen seemingly regressing each week, the Phillies do only one thing well right now. That is: show up and play hard for the manager. They try. Facing each and every week with both, apparently, yet another heart sucking loss and injury, forced to rely on guys like Burrell and Jose Mesa, they grimly take the field with the sort of determination you associate with the defense of Bataan.

For instance: Yo Brewers! Put that Cordero out there, who had closed Philadelphia out the two previous nights in a row, for a third time- and this club will cheerily dig in and hump it. And as a result, the Phillies are still within a pair of games or so of the play-offs.

If May and June were all about crawling back form the abyss, and July was about getting over .500, then August is about surviving Jose Mesa- as a concept- at least until the reinforcements arrive. No, I am not talking about Flash Gordon. But add Myers and Victorino and Utley- keep that current robot replacing Burrell in the line-up, find a similar Howard robot- and man, they gotta a shot. A little swagger. I still think the Braves and Mets are better than them- maybe a club or two out west too- certainly, over 162 games. But by hanging around, the Phillies are rapidly reducing the season to who is hotter over a month, or two weeks, or a series or two versus someone like Florida in late September.

Lastly, Aaron Rowand is having an unreal season, right? Now, I’m still not backing away from my feeling that his best utility to the team would have been moving him for a quality bullpen arm back in April- but you gotta admit, the guy is having an fearsome season. Big hit- what a catch in the seventh last night. I doubt Rowand makes them ten-twelve games better- very few major league players do- and conversely the ‘pen has taken them out of dozens of games this year- but that doesn’t denigrate his monster season. To even be thought to be making a eight-ten game difference means an unreal season- read your Bill James people!

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